The Conversation: Building blocks of life found among organic compounds on Comet 67P.
“They both detected compounds which are important in the pathway to producing sugars – which go on to form the ‘backbone’ of DNA. They also both note the very low number of sulphur-bearing species, which is interesting given the abundance of sulphur in the solar system, and the ease with which it can become integrated into organic compounds.”
SciAm: How the Brain Purges Bad Memories.
“Drugs that alter the cannabinoid system could provide a way to modify the fear circuit, thereby—possibly—alleviating anxiety. Neurostimulation technologies, including transcranial magnetic stimulation and even optogenetics, could also potentially be used therapeutically to augment standard anxiety treatments.” A lot of people could see relief.
The Point: Forward with Fukuyama.
Hmmm. The internet age has seen history expand and contract in myriad ways. Poor education gifts contextless young journalists with near-zero historical perspective, whereas the internet itself is deepening the sheer volume of historical text. History seems to get interpreted and reinterpreted, sliding off current events like eggs off a teflon pan.
Discovery News: Antiquities Found on Shipwreck That Carried Elgin Marbles.
Well, if they find more, they ain’t leavin’ Greece this time around.
The Economist: Daily chart - Unlikely results in scientific studies.
Watch this; it might even break me of posting the latest science study news.
The Toast: Visible Faith - On Grad School and Ageism.
“... I was surprised by the degree to which the more mature male professors seemed unnerved by my presence, and they became the main source of my day-to-day anxiety. One of them, a jeans-wearing survivor of the pseudo-hippie revival of the ’80s, once announced to our class that Thomas Hardy only began writing poetry after he reached his sixties. ‘Just when the brain is atrophying for most people,’ he said, staring at me, ‘the man became a world-class poet. Imagine! You’ve got to be some kind of brilliant to defy those odds.’” The more fool he.
One reader noticed.
On July 19, one of my photographs got in the NY Times. Elana Resnick and Will Nomikos were resident scholars here in Santa Fe, at the School for Advanced Research. I offered to take their engagement portrait while they were here. Will and Elana are both sweethearts; smart as whips, fantastic to brainstorm with. They restore my faith in the next generation shepherding our world to a better plane. Congratulations, E and W!!! Best wishes for a fantastic future.
Later: Irony. I can’t see it, because I’ve overstayed my non-paying outside-of-paywall status. Readers, let me know if it looks good.
New Yorker: Kacey Musgraves, Harper Lee, and the Home-Town Dilemma.
History: Iron Age Graves in Britain Yield Hybrid Animals and Human Sacrifice.
“Special FX” ... even in the past.
Guernica: Stars in My Pocket Like Bits of Data.
“... the average American encounters a total of 34 gigabytes of information daily.” No wonder I just tried to shelve the milk in my vitamin cabinet ...
Popular Archaeology: Bones of Philip of Macedon Identified.
Wrong skeleton, but the right one is quite fascinating and fits the historical record well.
OpenCulture: MIT’s Introduction to Poker Theory - A Free Online Course.
Guardian.UK: Arctic sea ice volume showed strong recovery in 2013.
Sliver of hope? The tendency these days is to attack any science that might forestall an extraordinary effort to counter climate change. I expect this to attract similar opposition. But if this means recovery could be rapid, wouldn’t that bolster a quick, powerful thrust to diminish global warming?
ArtDaily: Bulgaria’s Valley of Thracian Kings, accidentally discovered in 1944, keeps its secrets.
The New York Review of Books: Two Cheers for the Middle Ages!
Three books reviewed. Read the entire review before choosing any.
Public Books: Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking.
“Critical thinking, in either context — as a practical skill or as a rugged comportment toward the ineffable — would seem to function as a second-order fantasy, hovering above the very thing that we cannot come to terms with in a satisfying way: the role of liberal arts in higher education.” Add curiousity in the mix, and you’ve got a potent combination. IMHO.
NPR: Patricia Marx, Author Of ‘Let’s Be Less Stupid’.
“I took the test and I thought well, I’m pretty smart! My mother’s right, I really am pretty smart. These aren’t very hard. And then I get the results and it’s 74. 74! That’s, like, you’d have to be trained on how to scratch your arm if you have an IQ of 74. You have to get assistance to tie your shoes.”
HackedEducation: Is It Time to Give Up on Computers in Schools?
“Computers and mainframes and networks are points of control. They are tools of surveillance. Databases and data are how we are disciplined and punished. Quite to the contrary of Seymour’s hopes that computers will liberate learners, this will be how we are monitored and managed. Teachers. Students. Principals. Citizens. All of us.” Interesting; a bit too panicked about surveillance perhaps. A computer’s never yet reached out and whacked my wrist with a ruler.
Atlantic: Don’t Call Kids ‘Smart’.
Colossal: The Tedious 10-Month Restoration of a 355-Year-Old Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of
Hey, they were able to remove that Instagram filter ... (joking, just joking) ...
c|net: Professor warns robots could keep us in coffins on heroin drips.
Guernica: The Arts and Humanities Aren’t Worth a Dime.
“A liberal arts education teaches you how to think, not what to think; it produces informed, skeptical citizens capable of absorbing, weighing, and creating all sorts of knowledge. It may not teach you how to change your oil or program a website, but it prepares you to learn any skill, and most importantly, to question how any task is performed, challenge conventional wisdom, and introduce new processes.”
Guardian.UK: Exposure to mixture of common chemicals may trigger cancer, scientists find.
“The finding supports the idea that chemicals may be capable of acting in concert with one another to cause cancer, even though low-level exposures to these chemicals individually might not be carcinogenic.”
NY Review of Books: Our Universities, The Outrageous Reality.
Given recent events there may be more explanation here than in the battle flag of a defeated rebellion.
Digression: In the online arguments over the flag, many are getting confused over the multiple Southern flags. The flag in question is “the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia”, specifically a battle flag, not representing the Confederate States of America as the official country flag. Note it was officially square. The Tennessee variant was rectangular. Much later veteran’s groups adopted the Battle Flag over the CSA flag, probably out of building the myths around General Lee. I believe the story was, post-war, every Rebel veteran served under Lee (just as every WWII vet saw combat, etc. etc.). [I’d be more impressed with a Stonewall Jackson veteran, myself.] The Battle flag is part and parcel of post-war mythmaking. You have to actually read a book to understand the subtleties (see original link).
An interesting tidbit, probably lost on most: General P.G.T. Beauregard demanded this new battle flag be created because the CSA official small-square-on-a-white-field flag was confused with the Union Stars & Stripes when flapping in battle. Beauregard, immediately after the war, promoted civil rights and voted for recently-freed slaves.
“Heritage, not hate?” You have to accept the full heritage. I wonder if Beauregard ever flew that flag in front of his house, post-war. Given that he’d been pardoned by the Union, I sort of doubt it. And he couldn’t stand Jefferson Davis, even refusing to take part in his funeral parade. If the instigator of the flag didn’t fly it, should anyone else?
Nick Bostrom: Existential Risks - Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios.
“Maximize the probability of an okay outcome, where an ‘okay outcome’ is any outcome that avoids existential disaster.” Professor Bostrom’s lecture yesterday impacted me in many ways, but none moreso than this observation. As he said, we can’t uninvent things (so far). We have to manage what we’ve created in a moral manner.